Paradise Lost – The Plague Within
Release Date: June 2, 2015
The roots of Gothic metal can be traced all the way back to the first Black Sabbath album, but it truly materialized in the early nineties thanks to the work of pioneers such as Paradise Lost. The genre gets its name from their second album Gothic; they are to Gothic metal what ‘Death’ is to Death metal. One of the few bands that have more or less maintained their original line-up since the beginning, Paradise Lost have been consistently releasing albums and now they have presented to the world their 14th studio album, The Plague Within.
The Plague Within is an album whose meat lies in the first half. There are some really good songs in the first half of the album with songs like “No Hope In Sight” and “Punishment Through Time” being some stand out tracks. They prove that Paradise Lost still knows how to bang out some really good, groovy and heavy tunes. The riffs are relentless and so heavy that you physically feel like you are being pummeled into the ground.
Like any good Doom/Death or Goth album, this one too has a very dark tone to it. The band does a solid job of creating the most depressing feeling in some of their slower songs. If you track the album by how it makes you feel, the graph will look something like a valley with the beginning and end being a little more upbeat and the middle being the saddest pit of shame you can crawl into to die. The same goes with the pace of the songs with the middle of the album containing some of the slower, doomier songs.
But the slower songs are what I feel is the literal arrow to the knee of this album. They really take you out of the mood that the album begins with and it becomes difficult to get back to listening to the rest of the album. When you start listening to the album you really get into the songs and you are shaking your head feeling like going out for a drive while listening to the music and then you the hit the brick wall of “Beneath Broken Earth”, the album’s first single, and its better sounding cousin, “Sacrifice The Flame”. These tracks slow you down to such a degree that you just want to get off the ride this album had you on. I could excuse the songs if they were good to listen to but I felt they were quite boring; I have heard these riffs multiple times in different ways, there is nothing new here that grabs my attention.
The production on the album is pretty good. It’s nothing out of the ordinary but it is good. I was able to hear most of the instruments clearly though I felt that the bass was a bit too low in the mix. Nick Holmes puts in a good performance with his menacing harsh vocals and admirable cleans. Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy on guitars just churn out the riffs so thick and heavy they can be used as industrial grade lubricants. Steve Edmondson on bass can be heard rumbling away at the bottom end, helping create the doom and gloom atmosphere. Adrian Erlandsson on drums is really good; putting a little variety into each song with his drum fills. There is use of orchestration in some of the tracks which adds a sort of epicness to the songs.
The Plague Within proves again why Paradise Lost are considered the godfathers of modern doom and gothic metal. It’s got the heaviness, the atmosphere, the groove; everything a fan would want. But unfortunately, like most albums it’s not perfect. My only advice to anyone who might listen to the album is “just skip past the slow bits.”